Family-oriented fun for the annual Kool-Aid Days celebration kicked off Friday with Senior Fest and the Klub Kool-Aid Sneak Peek at the Hastings City Auditorium.
Jessica Rohan, president of the Kool-Aid Days board of directors, said both events had great participation. Senior Fest focused on activities for more experienced Kool-Aid drinkers, while Klub Kool-Aid event featured early access to children’s games.
She said the sneak peak offers a chance for Kool-Aid club members to experience many of the event’s activities without the crowds that will be in the downtown area on Saturday.
“It’s a lot of relaxed fun tonight,” she said.
Balloon Master Greg with The Balloon Brigade in Omaha stepped in to take the place of crowd-favorite Poppin’ Penelope after a last-minute opportunity presented itself. Greg said he was glad to fill in on Friday crafting balloon animals, crowns, swords and more for children.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “The kids have been great. It’s a great family-friendly atmosphere.”
Rohan said The Amazing Arthur from the same entertainment company will be providing balloon creations for attendees on Saturday.
“They do a great job with what they do,” she said.
While they have a few spots to fill, Rohan said, a lot more volunteers have agreed to help during the week leading up to the event.
“We really appreciate the community stepping up to help us out,” she said. “We couldn’t do it without them.”
Festivities continue Saturday with the Kool-Aid parade in downtown Hastings, leading to the World’s Largest Kool-Aid Stand. Events will include the Cute Kid Contest, Kwickest Kool-Aid Drinker contest, and inflatable rides outside, as well as carnival games inside the City Auditorium.
After 4 p.m., the Kool-Aid stand will be moved to Brickyard Park to prepare for the second part of the day’s activities.
Brickyard Park will open at 6 p.m. in preparation of Nebraska native Luke Mills performing at Hastings Tribune Koncert Kool-Aid at 8 p.m. Admission is free for anyone with a 2019 Kool-Aid Days mug or shirt. Fireworks supported by the Adams County Convention and Visitors Bureau will follow the concert.
On Sunday, the festival goes to Lake Hastings to spend some time on the water with the Tom Dinsdale Kardboard Boat Races.
For more information about the festival, visit www.kool-aiddays.com.
Hastings HVAC finished preparing to ship what is likely its largest international order to date on Friday, drawing an appearance from Gov. Pete Ricketts.
Shawn Hartmann, vice president and chief operations officer for Hastings HVAC, said the order for HVAC parts bound for Australia is valued at more than $200,000, making it the largest order the company has shipped to the country. He said they’ve had larger orders placed within the United States, but this is probably the largest order the company has shipped overseas in its history.
He said the business is usually slower during the summer, but this year has been steady throughout.
“It’s a big deal,” he said. “It’s just going to keep getting better.”
Hartmann said the company has supplied the Australian customer for a number of years, and the company has indicated plans to quadruple business in the near future, meaning orders for parts should continue to grow.
“We think we’ll see bigger orders than this in the future,” he said.
Hartmann said the company’s success wouldn’t have been possible without local partnerships with Dutton Lainson Company and Hastings Equipment Manufacturing.
The governor said he was happy to come out and celebrate the company’s success because it highlights the importance of manufacturing to the state’s economy.
“Manufacturing is the second largest industry in the state,” Ricketts said.
He said the increased production by the company, and similar companies through the state, shows the quality of Nebraskan-made products even in an international market.
One of the main challenges manufacturers face is finding enough employees to meet demand and Ricketts said the state is working to fill that void.
“There are a variety of ways we try to connect the workforce with great paying jobs right here in Nebraska,” he said.
After lunch, Ricketts also visited Prairie Loft Center for Outdoor and Agricultural Learning.
The nonprofit group recently entered a 10-year agreement with the state’s Department of Administrative Services to allow Prairie Loft to expand land stewardship programs and public education to 65 acres of state-owned land to the east and west of the current 8-acre property.
Ricketts commended Prairie Loft for the work it has done and proposes to continue in the future educating people about agriculture.
“They made a commitment to use money and volunteers to clean up the area and use it for agriculture education,” he said.
CJ Remmenga wasn’t worried — because he rarely is — but he had reason for concern Thursday when the Five Points Bank Chiefs trailed Emporia Post 5 6-1 in an elimination game.
Two games into the Mid-South Regional tournament and Remmenga hadn’t seen the mound.
A ‘Legion baby,’ meaning his birthdate allows him to play an extra year of baseball, Remmenga thought maybe he had thrown his last pitch for Five Points Bank.
While he was one of the arms sent to the bullpen to warm as the game began to slip away Thursday, it turned out the Chiefs didn’t need him. The offense awoke and Gabe Conant played hero with four innings of relief and a walk-off single in the ninth inning.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Remmenga said in retrospect.
Boy, was he right.
The 2018 Hastings High graduate, toed the rubber Friday, potentially for the final time.
There are few ways to end a career any better, if that becomes the case in the coming days.
Remmenga set the tone with his heavy fastball, and then spun batters around with his deceitful slider. He faced one above the minimum, and ended a five-inning no-hitter with a strikeout. His offense bestowed him a 10-run cushion, and the Chiefs advanced to play Festus, the Missouri runner-up, at 7 p.m. Saturday in yet another elimination game.
There were two special moments of celebration involving Remmenga after he sat down the last hitter he faced.
First, a dance with his head coach Kevin Asher.
“We got this thing that started about three years ago with ‘Stayin’ Alive,’ “ Asher said with a smile. “We did it in the state tournament all the way through (that year). We had to battle out of the (consolation) bracket to get runner-up, and it’s just kind of one of those things. The kids love to see an old guy fall down almost, and when CJ throws a no-hitter, we definitely had to make sure he was in on that.”
Second, an embrace with his mother Michelle, who suffers from spinal stenosis — a degenerative disease where the space between a person’s vertebrae gradually narrow, causing pressure on the nervous system.
Michelle’s opportunities to watch CJ play have been limited with her disability. Recently, her fourth, fifth, and sixth vertebrae were fused together, which prohibited her from watching CJ and the Chiefs all summer.
“I’ve just been laid up, and haven’t been able to travel the distances to where he’s been playing, so it was pretty incredible to see him today,” she said.
Thursday marked the first time Michelle was able to make it out to the ballpark.
“If they wouldn’t have won (Thursday), that would have been his last game,” she said. “The season would have been over for him, but I’m so glad he got the chance today. It’s just so exciting.”
Michelle greeted CJ with a cold pour of water on his head, and shared a few words of pride.
“It was a very emotional moment for me,” CJ said holding back tears. “It could potentially be my last Legion game, last baseball game ever, and it’s just very special to have my mom here for that moment.”
MINDEN — In between the cattle and swine pens at the Kearney County Fairgrounds here Minden, 4-H’ers presented their animals for the small animal show Friday morning at the Kearney County Fair.
The small animal show was open to almost any pet, but mostly ducks and rabbits were entered, along with one dog and one cat. Kids were judged on their care, presentation and knowledge of the animal.
Sue Nielsen, the small animal judge, said knowing the animal is one of the most important factors in doing well. Usually, the knowledge has to be specific to the animal’s breed.
“It takes a lot of study for the kids to get really good,” Nielsen said. “They have to know these breeds.”
For rabbit showmanship, each competitor placed his or her animal on a table for the judge, picking it up and rotating the animal for the judge to see all sides. The showman then would pay special attention to eyes, ears, teeth and feet. The competitor also would give a short speech, describing the rabbit and its breed’s features.
Nielsen added to the challenge by quizzing the exhibitors on the ideal qualities for their rabbit’s breed and various diseases.
When the standard rabbit show began, the judge focused more on the rabbit’s features, noting parts like the fur and ears. Competitors gave their speech, listing features like their breed’s fur and eye color variations.
Ian Sinsel, 14, entered two rabbits into the competition and took grand champion for senior showmanship. He said rabbits are easier to move around in front of a judge, compared to hogs, but are harder to present because competitors need to know more information.
“With pigs, they judge comes to your pig in the arena. For rabbits, you have to tell your judge everything about it,” Ian said.
Preparing a rabbit takes time, brushing and trimming its toenails, then giving it a wash before the show, Ian said.
Following the rabbit show, exhibitors presented poultry in a similar fashion to the rabbits. Competitors set their animal on the table, picked it up and rotated the birds to show its qualities. They would also extend its wings to display its feather quality.
Anna Sinsel, 18, brought her white crested duck, named Alfredo. Anna said Alfredo gets judged on quality like his white feather color and a tuft of feathers on his head, a feature special for his breed.
Alfredo is more of a pet to the Sinsel family, said Anna and Ian’s mother, Stacy Sinsel. Alfredo had hip problems and was allowed to wander around the house where he received more attention than the other animals they have.
“He’s spoiled,” Stacy said.
Stacy said they don’t expect Alfredo to win any ribbons, but brought him along because of his docile manner. She said he gets along well with children and letting kids interact with Alfredo encourages other to get into 4-H.
Elenora Reichstein took grand champion for rabbits, and Maria Hazzard took reserve champion.
Ian took grand champion for the rabbit showmanship and Mercedes Holmes took reserve champion.
Ian Sinsel and Nathan Hultquist took grand and reserve champion in senior poultry showmanship, respectively.
Sophia Cederburg took grand champion and Sam Cederburg took reserve champion for junior poultry showmanship.
The Kearney County Fair continues Saturday, beginning with the swine showmanship and show at 8:30 a.m. The carnival gets an early start at noon.
Saturday also includes an escape room at 1:30 in the afternoon and a pet contest at 2 p.m. The Minden Chamber of Commerce sponsors a community barbecue at 5:30 p.m.
The 4-H Beef show begins at 6 p.m. and the Ranch Rodeo comes shortly after at 7 p.m.
Sunday finishes up with another early start for the carnival at noon. A car show begins at 1 p.m., and the 4-H Open Class bucket class and overall showmanship show starts at 2 p.m.
The livestock auction will be Monday at 9 a.m.